Up to this one, I has happy enough to keep believing that The Simpsons was the greatest show ever. But thanks to this truly unfunny and pointless episode I was able to finally see that the emperor was, in fact, naked, and I'd been fooling myself for years. Now, it's possible that there have been some excellent episodes since, but I wouldn't know because I don't care any more. Every couple of months I'll watch a new episode just in case, but it's been many, many years since I've seen one that contains actual jokes.
Michael Graham takes us back and also examines why this was the only time that tennis has featured on the popular sitcom.
While The Simpsons may have lost its sparkle in the last 10 years, there is no question that it stands as an absolute colossus of both television and culture.
Since debuting 29 years ago, it has amassed well over episodes to make it the longest running sitcom and prime-time animated series in United States history.
With guest stars flocking to the show from the small screen, the big screen, sports, stage, music, politics, science… probably every nook and cranny society and popular culture has to offer, its gravitas and mass appeal, despite its recent decline, cannot and should not be understated.
And yet, only once have tennis and its stars taken centre stage.
That episode aired on 11 February , and it was glorious. The Simpsons, after all, reflects American society. Back in , the tennis world was very different.
More to the point, they were all big characters with big stories. Only two of the top 10 ATP rankings were American, but they were Sampras and Agassi, players with huge legacies and popular appeal. There was also Andy Roddick, a future world No 1, who was the winner of the coveted newcomer of the year award.
So in other words, where are the up-and-coming US tennis stars? Why have they stopped producing the best?
Sloane Stevens, of course, won the US Open, but it was in quite remarkable circumstances. She was ranked 83rd in the world at the time, the lowest ranked player to ever win it, but even then she was the first non-Williams American to win a Grand Slam in 15 years.
From to , American men reached the semi-finals or better 62 times at Grand Slams, though only 26 managed it between and At Wimbledon in , Sam Querrey became the first American man in eight years, 2, days to be exact, to reach a Grand Slam semi-final.
Those figures are on the rise and shows the pool is as big as ever.
There is, of course, another way of looking at it. All we can do is continue to watch the brilliance of the European-dominant tours, and when America are back on top, we can surely rely on The Simpsons to inform us.
By Michael Graham.